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Full text of "Chautauqua Historical Society Newsletter"

Preservation is Progress 



Chautauqua Historical Society 



Volume 3, Issue 1 



February, 2005 



• The Newsletter is 
published three times a year: 
winter, spring, and fall. 

• The Newsletter is a member- 
ship benefit at the Piasa Bluffs 
Assembly (PBA), Patron, and 
Regular levels. 

• PBA and Patron 

membership include a 
membership in the 
Chautauqua Network 

• CHS members are 
encouraged to submit articles to 
the editor for inclusion in the 
Newsletter. 



Inside this issue: 



The President 's Message 2 

A conversation with 
the Reverend Daniel 
Zimmerman 3 

Reverend F. M. Van Treese, 
a Founding Father 7 

Fountain Park Chautauqua, 
Remington Indiana 8 



lVehave4PBA, 

SS Patron, and 

19 Regular members, 

and send the Newsletter 

to 129 households. 




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VOLUME 3, ISSUE I 



CHAUTAUQUA HISTORICAL SOCIETY 



PAGE 2 




The Pre^tdet^t's iM^sage 

This column is our 

I Annual Report. Our 

membership season runs 
from July I to June 30 
and our fiscal year is on a 
calendar year basis. So, 
our 

Annual Report is the 
mix-and-match variety. 
The 2004 season was a 
rewarding one for Chau- 
tauqua and for the Soci- 
ety in particular. 

Our 2004-paid membership included 61 Patron and 
6 Regular members. With complimentary members, we 
mailed the June 2004 Newsletter to 109 households. 
Our present (2005) membership includes 4 Piasa Bluff As- 
sembly members, 55 Patrons, 7 Regular, and 
12 Clarkson members. The latter represent folks who gave a 
leadership gift to the Sundial project, and who were not pre- 
viously members of the Society. The Newsletter is 
being mailed now to 129 households. Our complimentary 
members are from other Chautauquas, local historical 
societies, libraries, and so on. Only a few members from 
2004 did not renew for 2005. 

Our financial situation is sound. Income consists of 
membership dues and profits from the Jersey Door 
operation. The Kentucky Home will have two separate shops 
next season. The LCIA will operate the Indian Giver and the 
Historical Society will run the Jersey Door. Profits from this 
activity have been used to restore parts of the building, and 
we will continue to support this activity. Our normal ex- 
penses include administrative and office charges for paper, 
computer printer ink, postage, photocopying, small equip- 
ment, duplicating, and so on. We have also print the News- 
letter professionally. We purchase books for use in research 
and to add to the collection about Chautauquas that is grow- 
ing each year in the 

community library. When we sponsor a special project 
(the Memorial Sundial Restoration) we realize one-time 
expenses. We maintain a complete copy" of all Society 
records and documentation, including financial information 



that we keep for review in the library for members, 
researchers, and other interested parties. 

A 2005 goal is to increase our ability to handle 
acquisitions and collecfions. What we term the "Jacoby" 
collection is held by the Elsah Museum and stored at 
Principia The "Voss" collection is held by and stored at 
the Jersey County Historical Society. We have a large 
number of documents and materials in several private 
locations at Chautauqua, and in the Administration 
Building. We hope to list and describe these materials 
systematically in 2005 and provide responsible archival 
storage, and have committed up to $1000 for this project. 
We will purchase archival storage boxes, acid-free photo 
and postcard sleeves, materials to store newspaper and 
magazine articles, and so on. We need, for example, 
professional supplies to care for the Scrapbook that 
provided much of the information about the 1954 Air 
Force Academy selection issue. 

In the last Newsletter I asked for your help in 
finding old program books. Recent archival acquisitions 
include the Zimmerman baptismal certificate, a 1905 and 
1906 issue of the monthly Piasa Chautauquan and more 
than 40 postcard and photo images made available by the 
Zimmerman's, copied to CD. With the permission of Eric 
Pistorius, a Jerseyville lawyer, we also copied his 
collection of cards and photos of Grafton in the early 20* 
century, and Elsah in the I950's. Our computer image 
collection is growing rapidly. 

We want to develop an archival system over the 
next few years that will be professionally responsible. Then 
we can approach the present holders of Chautauqua material 
and ask that the materials be released/returned to our care. 
Archival management is a substantial responsibility, and we 
hope the Society with the support of membership will be 
able to succeed in this objective. When you shop at the 
Jersey Door you are investing in saving our history. 

Society officials for 2005 are Rose Tomlinson 
(President), Judy Hurd (Vice President), Chris Hagin 
(Treasurer), Tim Tomlinson (Secretary), and Paul 
Brammeier and Pat Miller (Directors). 

^^se TomUnson 



PRESER VA TION IS PROGRESS 



Address inquires and other communications to 

Tim Tomlinson 

Editor. CHS Newsletter 

PostOfficeBox87, Elsah, Illinois 62028 

Phone: 618-374-1518; email: Trtl933@aol.com 

Copy/Proof Readers: Kathy Brammeier, Gary Cooper, Susan Seiber 

Printed by Abbey Graphic & Design, Alton, Illinois 



The mission and purpose of the Chautauqua Historical Society is the preservation and enhancement of the historic traditions 
and culture of New Piasa Chautauqua. Ciuiutauqua, Illinois, the encouragement of historical research on the Chautauqua 
community and nearby historic districts, the publication of historical brochures, pamphlets, and other written material on New 
Piasa Chautatujua, remaining permanent assemblies and chautauquas in other parts of the United States, and the natioruil 
Chautauqua movement, and the establishment of an educational program to inform the Chautauqua community and the 
general public of the historical and educational value of New Piasa Chautauqua. 



VOLUME 3, ISSUE 1 



CHAUTAUQUA HISTORICAL SOCIETY 



PAGE 3 



Remembrances of Things Past 

Daniel Zimmerman's parents, Edward 
and Edna, were local folk who came from German 
Lutheran immigrant stock. Eidna Steirman 
Zimmerman, according to Daniel, was a bom 
storyteller and teacher. She assisted with Sunday 
School classes at Chautauqua and appeared often on 
the Auditorium stage in the 1910s as a storyteller, 
part of the summer Chautauqua program. 

Edward Zimmerman was hard working, 
fiaigal, and industrious. In 1916, a "single white 
male" as described by a Warranty Deed, he 
purchased 80 acres of land from New Piasa 
Chautauqua, over 25% of the original landholding 
that the Piasa Bluffs Assembly purchased in 1 886. In 
1 923 he built the house in Fern Glen in which Daniel 
and Ann Zimmerman now live, and in which Daniel 
and his older brother (Paul, 1 921 ) and younger sister 
(Mary, 1926) grew up. Ed Zimmerman supplied sum- 
mer Chautauquans with milk and vegetables for many 
years. He was a valued builder and handyman. He 
worked often for Bill and Gordon Grundmann's 
grandfather, whom he called a good friend. He built 
the Eckhard, Palmer, and Dickman (now Trabue) 
cottages, worked on Riverview (Wagers-Miller), 
Summer Rest (Sam Schmidt), the White cottage, 
and on community buildings including the original 
Administration Building. The Yellow Balloon, once 
the Brainerd Store, originally was sited where the 
Town Hall is now. Daniel's father and other laborers 
moved the Brainerd Store to its present site by setting 
the building on telephone poles and rolling it several 
yards to the south. 

Daniel William Zimmerman was bom on 
February 2, 1 923, in the family home near 
Grafton, Illinois. That summer he was christened in 
the Chautauqua auditorium by the Reverend Francis 
Marion Van Treese, on August 26, 1923. The 
Kupferle Chape! had not yet been built, and the 
presiding minister and date were auspicious: Van 
Treese was an important member of Chautauqua's 
1 885 Founding Committee, and August 26 was 
frequently celebrated as "Founders Day." Coinciden- 
tal ly, Dan's sister Mary was bom on August 26, 

1926. Mary was baptized also in the Auditorium 
(August 26, 1928), but with a different minister 
officiating. The Rev. Van Treese had passed away in 

1927, after moving to Califomia. 



Life in the Valley was exciting for a young 
boy. Daniel attended kindergarten in the small room 
behind the Chapel, and then attended the Elsah ele- 
mentary school. He and his brother walked along the 
railroad tracks, and sometimes in bad weather paid 
the 6c train fare. He recalls the Mississippi flooding 
frequently, and even tornadoes, one of which tore off 
the roof of the Chautauqua Station (Stand/Pavilion), 
with parts of it landing in the pool. His boyhood 
friends were other Valley children, and during the 
summer season, the children of Chautauqua. Daniel 
described Billy Claricson as "one of my best fiiends 
growing up." He and brother Paul had the usual farm 
children chores — hoeing, weeding, tending livestock, 
milking, and cutting wood for the family stoves. They 
mowed lawns and raked leaves for the Chautauqua 
community, and, instructed by their industrious 
father, became skilled at carpentry, painting, 
plumbing, and more. 

Daniel attended high school in Grafton, 
starting in 1 936, and in 1 937 a school bus started to 
pick up Valley children at the Chautauqua post office 
at the end of the Board Walk. Since the Grafton 
school didn't have a senior class, he went to Jersey- 
ville for his last year of high school. After graduation, 
he worked for his dad, then the Alton Glass Works, 
then Olin Steel. He was inducted into the United 
States Army in 1943, had his basic training in Flor- 
ida, and had duties in Texas, California, and Seattle 
as part of the Army Air Force. He was not sent over- 
seas. Daniel was discharged in in Chicago in 1 946. 

While in the service, Daniel became 
interested in the ministry, and after his release en- 
rolled in the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. His 
interest was in foreign missions. As a student, he 
met Ann Cady, who would become his wife and 
helpmate. Ann's goal was to be a missionary to 
Africa. They were married in April 1949; at the 
wedding a violinist played "I'll Go Where You 
Want Me To Go." The newlyweds spent part of 
their first summer in Fern Glen, helping Dan's 
parents with the chores. In June, they were accepted 
officially as Evangelical Baptist missionaries, and 
by November were on their way to Algiers for 
lessons in the French language. After celebrating 
Christmas in Algiers, they left for Niger and six 
months later settled in the city of Gao, which would 

(Continued on page 4) 



VOLUME 3, ISSUE 1 



CHAUTAUQUA HISTORICAL SOCIETY 



PAGE 4 



(Continued from page 3) 

be their headquarters" for most of the next three 
decades. Four of their five children were bom in 
Africa; they were home-schooled by Ann and cor- 
respondence courses. The family was able to take 
"furloughs" from time to time, generally returning 
to Fern Glen and the Jerseyville area. At the end 
of one furlough, the two older boys 
remained with family friends in Grafton so they 
could attend high school in the States. Daniel and 
Ann returned to Africa to continue their mission- 
ary activity until they retired in 1981 — a ministry 
of love for 3 1 years. They returned to Fern Glen 
Valley. 




fMit\>l' 



TRT In the 1 930s, you were between 10-17 years 
old. Can you describe summers at 
Chautauqua during that period, and how were folks 
in the Valley "connected" to Chautauqua? 

DZ Most of the families in the Valley 

had some direct connection with Chautauqua. Tho- 

Dan Zimmerman and I spent about four hours talking, 
and he also wrote out some notes in response to 
questions I posed before our talk/interview. We 
recorded about an hour of the talk, and I took 
extensive notes. The material that follows is not a true 
verbatim interview, but rather paraphrases what Dan 
said in response to my questions. The "answers" also 
reflect what he wrote down prior to the interview, and 
some material comes from a wonderful book prepared 
for Dan and Ann by their children on the occasion of 
the Zimmerman's 50"' wedding anniversary. The book 
is a worthy testimony to two very remarkable people. 
Dan took time to read this article and thus had an 
opportunity to correct me where necessary. We both 
agree that the article is a reasonable representation 
of what he remembers about growing up near Chau- 
tauqua and how he described that experience to me. 
Tim Tomlinson 

mas Brown, for example, was a groundskeeper/ 
custodian for over 35 years, until 1960. His sons 
delivered newspapers, and many of we children in 
the Valley delivered papers, milk, berries, and vege- 
tables to summer folks. Tom Brown's older brother 
Charles was a stonemason. There is a small (no 
longer in use) quarry near the bluff above Fern Glen 
Creek where local stone was cut for use at Rock 
Bottom and for the construction of the rock wall 



Local men cutting ice c 1910, this photo from the 

Zimmennan collection. The Inn is m the background, m what is now 

Flint Park. 



that ran from Play School down to the Chapel en- 
trance, and which only recently has been replaced. 
My family also did odd jobs for Chautauquans to 
earn money. I milked our two cows and sold the 
milk in Chautauqua. My father was a builder and 
re-modeler for Chautauqua cottages and public 
buildings. The skills he taught me were very 
important to my missionary work in Africa during 
the many years Ann and I spent there. Some folks in 
Fern Glen worked in Grafton or Alton, but were 
still connected to Chautauqua. There were special 
season passes that we could buy. The passes 
allowed us to participate in all Chautauqua events, 
including the use of the pool, movies and programs 
at the Auditorium, attending Chapel services and 
Sunday School, and so on. I remember two 
occasions very well. When I was only five and my 
sister Mary was two, we marched in the Children's 
Day parade. This was 1 928, and my brother Paul 
was seven. My mother brought us to Springfield 
Avenue where the parade was forming, and placed 
us in line for marching. She told Paul and me that 
we must be very carefiil and take good care of 
Mary. The three of us marched hand in hand, Mary 
in the middle, down the streets with the rest of the 
Chautauqua children. In those days, the parade 
moved toward the boardwalk, up eiround the 
(present) Adams cottage and then down St. Louis 
Avenue. Near the Boardwalk, Mary saw my mother 
in the watching and approving crowd, and began to 

(Continued on page 5) 



VOLUME 3, ISSUE 1 



CHAUTAUQUA HISTORICAL SOCIETY 



PAGES 



(Continued from page 4) 

cry and wail something awful. 1 was mortified and 
embarrassed, and she didn't stop until she could no 
longer see my mother. I still tease her about that to- 
day. 

Another strong memory is connected to an 
almost fatal accident. In 1937, 1 was 14 years old. If 
you were older than 14 you couldn't compete in the 
Chautauqua competitions. The previous year I had 
managed a "third," and was determined to get a 
"first" in the 100 yard dash, the steeplechase, or the 
Softball throw — or all three. The day of the compe- 
tition, I wanted to practice but couldn't 
until Paul and 1 hauled wood home that my father 
had split. My mother would use the wood for heat- 
ing water and baking. We hitched our two horses, 
Pat and Dick, to our wagon and went to get the 
logs. Loading them was easy, in spite of the heat. 
We were almost finished and I got on the wagon to 
move it forward a little. One rein had fallen be- 
tween the two horses. Steadying myself with my 
hand on Dick's back, 1 reached dov«i for the rein. I 
lost my balance, startling the horses. They raced 
down the hill, with me trying to hold on one of the 
reins, their hooves kicking dirt and dust at me, and 
me bouncing back and forth along the wagon 
tongue as the loaded wagon careened forward. I 
fell unconscious to the road, the horses and wagon 
racing on, only to be stopped by a neighbor. 

As I awoke I could hear Paul shouting, "Is 
he dead, is he dead?" My back was very, very 
painful, but I was not dying. My father was able to 
get help and I was taken in a neighbor's car to SL 
Joseph's Hospital in Alton. The injuries turned out 
to be minor, but I was sore for a few weeks. I had 
time to think, and my parents reminded me that God 
had a purpose in saving my life. That purpose 
turned out to be service to God. 1 never did get a 
Chautauqua "first," and my interest in sports 
declined after that summer incident. 

TRT The 30s were the heart of the Great Depres- 
sion. What was happening at Chautauqua? 

DZ Six families lived in Fern Glen, long-time 
families. We also had a number of temporary resi- 
dents, some who lived in tents in the summer, and 
were able to rent Chautauqua cottages for the 
winters. This was, by the way, not entirely related 



to the hardships of the Depression. For years, many 
of the "winterized" cottages were either lived in by 
the owners or rented for the winter season. The 
character of the Mississippi changed during this 
decade. Prior to the Alton Dam ( 1 936), there were 
many more sand bars in the river than now. These 
were favorite swimming places, as was the "sandy" 
shoreline. What we now sometimes call Alton Lake 
didn't exist. Local workers used to cut ice in the 
river and some of it was stored in an icehouse by 
the Chautauqua back gate. That area was turned into 
a horse bam in the 1920s. Over 15 horses were 
available for riding in the 1930s, and Fern Glen was 




Original Administration Building and Comfort House with two Roque 
courts, c. 1928; below, dedication of new building m 1934 from the 
Zimmerman collection 



a favorite riding trail. They sure could stir up dust 
when running fast Riding was a favorite pastime of 
many Chautauquans. The back gate, by the way, 
was located inside of what is now the Laffler 
cottage on Jersey Avenue. 




VOLUMES, ISSUE 1 



CHAUTAUQUA HISTORICAL SOCIETY 



PAGE 6 



(Continued from page 5) 

The main sports in Chautauqua's early 
years were horseshoes, roque, tennis, and Softball. 
In the 30s, volleyball, table tennis, and shuffleboard 
became popular. And it seemed as if there was a 
new community project every summer, in 1931 the 
Post Office was moved from in front of the Chapel 
to the Boardwalk. The next year the Playground 
was moved from near Kentucky Home to a site be- 
tween the Spring Hotel and the Chapel. In 1933 a 
new sidewalk was built from the cafeteria (Town 
Hall) down to the Boardwalk. The original two- 
storied Administration Building/Comfort House 
was torn down in 1 934, and a new concrete block 
Administration Building built the same year. In 
1935 the Midway (soda fountain/ice cream parlor) 
was built (now Play School), and a new cafeteria 
was constructed (Town Hall) the next year. In 

1937, the first floor of the hotel was remodeled for 
LCIA card parties. The Wood Shop was built in 

1938, and in 1939 new swimming pool showers 
were installed, with a dance pavilion above. The 



service made ice deliveries, looking for a tell-tale 
sign in a cottage window that would tell the vendor 
how many pounds of ice were needed for summer 
refrigeration. 

TRT In your mind, who were the "famous" 
Chautauqua characters, its leaders, its movers and 
shakers? 

DZ Well, I didn't know Reverend Van Treese, 
who christened me, but the Reverend Johnson, who 
christened my sister, was an important person, as 
were many of the early religious leaders. My father 
knew well and respected Dr. Grundmann, the one 
who built Villa Mexico. Mrs. W. K. Norris was an 
important woman at Chautauqua, as was Mrs. 
Johnson, the Reverend's wife. Mrs. Eugene Gas- 
kins, Mrs. Behymer, and Mrs. Georgia (McAdams) 
Clifford were also influential. The leaders of the 
Chautauqua Board were important — ^they made the 
decisions that continued the building process in the 
30s and 40s, even during the Depression and war 
years. For me, however, after my teens and until 
Ann and I returned to the Valley in 1981, 1 had 
little contact with Chautauqua. 




TRT You were able to visit with Beatrice 
Dickman Swarm this past summer, when she and 
her son visited Chautauqua. That must have 
brought back memories? 

DZ Yes, Bea Dickman was a few years older 
than me when I was in my teens, and her cousin 
Billy (Clarkson) was one of my very good friends. 
He was active in the community and was one of 
the birding club leaders, along with Bill Osbom. It 
was good to visit with Bea, especially at the re- 
dedication of the Billy Clarkson sundial. She has a 
lot of stories about Chautauqua to tell. 



present lighthouse was built in 1 940, along with a 
rock wall and sandy beach along the riverbank. 



TRT I should probably arrange for an 
interview with her. Thank you, Daniel, so much for 
spending these several hours with me and sharing 



Every summer milk and vegetable 
peddlers from the Valley and surrounding area 
would visit Chautauqua regularly, as would laundry 
and cleaning service vans from Alton. Without a 
resident icehouse, O. J. Richy's "Ice and Coal" 



Dan Zimmerman donated a number of archival 
documents to the Historical Society, including 
the original of the Baptismal Certificate shown 
on the front page of this Newsletter. 



VOLUME 3, ISSUE 1 



CHAUTAUQUA HISTORICAL SOCIETY 



PAGE 7 



A Chautauqua Biography 

There is a document in our records with a very 
long title: A Brief Account Of The Piasa Bluff Assem- 
bly, Now Called The New Piasa Chautauqua Associa- 
tion, Jersey County, Illinois. It's a copy, typed (from 
when typing was truly typing), undated, three pages in 
length, and has a notation on the 
reverse of the last page that "This article was written by 
F. M. Van Treese, the last survivor of the 
committee who selected the ground and organized 
the Piasa Bluffs Assembly." 

Reverend Francis Marion Van Treese 
was bom on January 29, 1 844 in Hendricks County, Indi- 
ana. A Civil War veteran, he enlisted in the Fifth Illinois 
Cavalry Regiment at the age of 1 7 and served from 1 86 1 - 
65. One biographer states that his early education oppor- 
tunities were limited, but that he was industrious and 
dedicated, qualities that allowed him to get ahead in life. 
He was involved in business in Willow Hill (Jasper 
County, near Effingham) for two years, and then became 
a Methodist Episcopal minister, associated with the 
Southern Illinois Conference. 

The 1873-74 McKendree College "catalog" lists 
a F. M. Van Trease from Greenville, Indiana as a fresh- 
man Classical major. We have no evidence that Van 
Treese had any formal education and he may have en- 
rolled as a college student to further his career in the 
ministry. No such student is listed in subsequent classes. 
However, In 1 875 and for several years thereafter, Van 
Treese is listed in the catalogs as a member of the 
"Visiting Committee," representing the Southern Illinois 
Conference. He appears as a college Trustee in the 
1 880s, serving at the same time with Rev. Benjamin St. 
James Fry, another Chautauqua founding fether. The 
Commencement Program for 1 893 lists Van Treese as 
an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree recipient 

He married Avis Cheek in 1868. They 
had six sons and one daughter. Van Treese held 
ministerial posts in several southern Illinois towns, in- 
cluding Jerseyville. He served a term as district Super- 
intendent for the Alton and Vandal ia Districts. As Ex- 
ecutive Secretary of the Conference Endowment Fund 
(1915), he raised $124,000 for the retired preachers 
fiind, retiring himself in 1922. When his wife passed 
away in 1926, Van Treese "set his house in order," do- 
nated his library to McKendree College, and moved to 
California. He died in 1927, spending the last year of his 
life visiting three sons who lived in California. He is 
buried next to his wife in the College Hill Cemetery, 
Lebanon, Illinois, adjacent to McKendree College. 



Van Treese was a member of the committee that was 
instructed to locate a suitable site for a Western 
Chautauqua. Several members of the committee and their 
wives visited our valley on July 7, 1885. They were 
impressed with the locale, and especially the "Piasa 
Spring." Van Treese may have held the first religious 
service in our community on that day. He states that their 
object was to "maintain a Summer Resort for literary, 
scientific and religious instruction and culture similar to 
the great Chautauqua Lake Assembly." 

Van Treese was active in Chautauqua affairs 
in the first few decades of our community, although 
he does not appear as a cottage owner until 1911 
(Hormell cottage). He was certainly active in our 
religious events, even after the Reorganization of 1909. 
He christened Daniel William Zimmerman in the 
Chautauqua Auditorium (see page 1 ) on August 26, 
1923. His daughter, Blanche Van Treese MacMachin, 
appears in New Piasa Chautauqua lease documents in 
1918 as the leaseholder for Dave and Chris Hagin's 
cottage. She also held the leasehold for Don and Lyn 
Bryant's cottage from 1918 to 1950, when it was taken 
over by her daughter. After her mother's death in 1926, 
her father assigned her the leasehold for the Hormell 
cottage. Because many of the Association records are 
incomplete, we have no record of when she relinquished 
that leasehold. 

Francis Marion Van Treese was a genuine 
Chautauqua founding father, a minister who enjoyed his 
ministry and whose accomplishments include creating 
and fostering the Western Chautauqua. His colleagues 
and those he served for 60 years held him in wide es- 
teem. It appears he deserved his honorary doctorate. His 
early limited education notwithstanding, it appears he 
deserved his honorary doctorate. 




In his own words (see /I Brief Account...) 



This photo appears in Ralph Osbom's book., 
A Centennia] The dale and source are not known 



VOLUME 3, ISSUE 1 



CHAUTAUQUA HISTORICAL SOCIETY 



PAGE 8 



Two Weeks at a Time: Fountain Park 
Chautauqua, Remington, Indiana 

The success of the Chautauqua experiment by 
John Heyl Vincent and Lewis Miller at Fair Point on 
Chautauqua Leike, New York in 1 874 prompted the 
creation of independent chautauquas across the country. 
One such setting was the Fountain Park Chautauqua 
Assembly, organized in 1 895 and the sponsor of a 
summer program every year since. Founder Robert 
Parker, president of the Bank of Remington, purchased 
land in 1 893 as "an ideal place for an annual, out-of- 
doors assembly to be held for the people of Northwest- 
em Indiana to meet to discuss religious, scientific and 
literary subjects." 

The site was named Fountain Park for an artistic 
feature planned as a central element of the grounds. The 
1 895 Assembly lasted ten days, and meetings were held 
in the Tabernacle, built at Parker's expense. By-laws 
were approved in 1 897, and by 1 899 the assembly 
program was extended to two weeks. The present hotel 
was built in 1 898, and silent movies were shown that 




year. From 1895-1902 the Assembly was a Christian 
Church project, and Parker frequently covered operating 
deficits. Fountain Park was incorporated and issued 
capital stock in 1902. 

Chautauquans from other "permanent" 
assemblies can relate easily to the story of Fountain 
Park. William Jennings Bryan lectured before an 
estimated 8000 people in 1907. A Women's Improve- 
ment Association was formed in 1911, Today, members 
meet on Wednesday afternoons and they are committed 
to the beautification of the grounds. In 1983 the 
Association produced a cookbook, and in 1 990 
sponsored a successfijl "cottage walk." And, like many 
other Chautauquas, Fountain Park faced economic 
adversity. The Bank of Remington failed in 1907, and 
Robert Parker withdrew from the project in 1908. But 
the program was firmly established: ". . .at the appointed 



time, August 15 to 30, 1908, the Assembly will be held 
and we ask the support and cooperation of Remington 
and all the surrounding towns and county to help us 
carry on the good work of Fountain Park. . ." 
There was a 1 908 season. 

The land is owned by the corporation and leased 
in twenty-year increments. The first cottage was built in 
1899. By 1905 forty cottages had been constructed. 
Since 1902, at the direction of cottage owners, all cot- 
tages (and tents) are located outside the Grove, the cen- 
ter of the Assembly's activity. Today there are seventy- 
three cottages on the site. 




Within the Grove are located the 600-seat 
Tabernacle, art buildings for classes, a museum, 
recreational hall, a food stand, gazebo, and a playground 
and basketball court. The present Tabernacle 
(Auditorium) is listed on the National List of Historic 
Theater Buildings, National Trust Library. The original 
building was renovated and enlarged in 1949, and was 
replaced in 1958-60. 

A daily/weekly admission is charged. The 1 7.3 
acre site has an area dedicated to tent and trailer 
camping for Assembly residents and their guests. The 
hotel provides rooms for visitors and meals for its 
guests, cottage owners, camf)ers, and daily patrons fix)m 
the area. Rose and Tim Tomlinson visited Fountain Park 
Chautauqua in the summer of 2004, while traveling to 
the annual Chautauqua Network meeting at Bay View, 
Michigan. They stayed and ate in the hotel, where the 
size of the room and family-style meals was like going 
back in time. They wandered over the grounds, and 
attended an evening program in the Tabernacle. They 
can attest that Fountain Park prospers, two weeks at a 
time. In 2005, the community will celebrate its 1 10* 
consecutive assembly. 

Photos courtesy of Tim Tomlinson, 2004. 

Go to yi^'M/ .founlain-park.org for more information